Torch Runner- Committed to the Ground

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Wednesday, June 4, 2014

For the past few years Southern Lord has been adding one killer crust/grind act after another. It seems like every other release from the label has been something that’s going to blow out my speakers with crushing riffs, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. One of their latest additions is North Carolina’s Torch Runner, who has recorded a new album set for release earlier this year. But before that release is finalized Southern Lord has given the band’s 2012 debut full length Committed to the Ground a reissue. It’s a 12-track rager that offers some familiar bursts of aggression and slower, sludgier sections and while it isn’t quite my favorite out of albums of this type it’s still one that has warranted repeat listens.

Like many of the other releases that fall under the grind/hardcore spectrum, the majority of the song’s on Committed to the Ground are a minute and a half or less with three four minute tracks taking up the majority of the run time. Torch Runner instantly grabbed my attention with their tonality, as the guitar work has that crunchier, dirty sound that works so well in this genre and each and every moment on this disc is absolutely crushing. When the group is going full speed the wall of sound tears through your speakers and makes you want to start breaking stuff, and they’re able to keep the intensity at that level even when they slow things down and head into much sludgier territory where a slight bit of melody is placed over top of the lumbering base. However, while this is definitely the type of album that I like as an entire body of work thanks to its consistently heavy hitting instrumental work and grimier sound, there weren’t quite as many individual sections that truly stuck with me after repeat listens. It’s definitely not a deal breaker as I’ve still been spinning this one regularly, but a few more sections that make the listener want to go back and immediately repeat that particular song could definitely take Torch Runner to another level.

Vocalist Rob Turner takes the intensity generated by the instrumentals and amplifies it, as his lower pitched screaming is so distorted and in your face that it cuts through the wall of sound and grabs you by the throat without letting go for the course of the entire album. I really like the way that the band chose to record the vocals on Committed to the Ground, as it emphasizes Turner’s performance in a way not every album in this genre can match. During some of the longer numbers Torch Runner does throw in a few sound clips in, but they’re integrated well with the material and it never seemed like the group was wasting too much time with them.

Committed to the Ground is an album I’ve been listening to regularly for the past day or two, and while it could use a few more specific riffs that stood out and had that “holy shit” factor, taken as a whole it’s still an effort that anyone interested in this type of crust punk/grind/hardcore will find to their liking. The guitar tone and vocals are absolutely killer, and with a bit more growth I think Torch Runner will reach that level where they completely blow me away from one moment to the next. I’m definitely interested in hearing where they go on their upcoming sophomore effort, and in the meantime will likely find myself coming back to this one some more in the coming months.

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